Rob Gronkowski had a knack for surprises in 2020. Back in April, the NFL was still buzzing at the fact that Tom Brady had elected to leave the Patriots and sign with Tampa Bay in free agency when he came over the top to say that he was coming out of retirement and managed to finagle a trade that landed him with the Bucs. While the legendary tight end brought another superstar name to Tampa Bay's roster, there was some question as to which type of player the Buccaneers would be getting. After all, the player that Gronkowski was towards the end of his tenure in New England was someone who seemed spent and his body had essentially tapped him out of the NFL.
In what proved to be a theme throughout the year for Gronkowski, he was a pleasant surprise in the Buccaneers offense. The five-time Pro Bowler ranked third on the team in receptions (45) and receiving yards (623) while also hauling in seven touchdowns over the regular season. More importantly, he also showed an ability to stay on the field at a clip we haven't seen since he first stepped into the NFL. For the first time since his second year in the league, Gronkowski was able to play in all 16 regular-season games along with all four of Tampa Bay's playoff contests en route to a Super Bowl LV title.
"I remember after that win, I was so done," Gronkowski said of that last Super Bowl with New England two years ago. "Coming off of the field, I was like, I'm just glad it's over. Just the pain I was in too. It was great to be a champ, but it just felt great to be done. But to take the year off, go through that journey, heal up, get my mind right and see the options out there and see everything play out. And then just come down here to Tampa Bay, come out of retirement. I retired from being retired, which was pretty cool."
Throughout the year, Gronkowski proved that he could still be a valuable go-to weapon for Brady even if he wasn't going to be the primary option in the passing game on a weekly basis. When the situation called for it, however, Gronkowski was able to dig into his generational talent and flash his all-time stature, which was on full display in Super Bowl LV.
After three playoff games where Gronkowski totaled just two receptions for 43 yards, the 31-year-old exploded in Sunday's 31-9 win against the Chiefs, catching six of his seven targets on the night for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Those six receptions and two scores were tied for season highs for Gronkowski while his 67 yards receiving were his third-highest of the year.
"Just unbelievable," he continued when talking about his journey from Super Bowl LIII to Super Bowl LV. "What a journey it's been, what a story it's been. What a start it was to the journey, and what a finish to the journey. It was the real deal."
After not being sure we'd ever see Gronkowski on an NFL field ever again, he was able to come back and not only hold his own but eventually turn in a performance worthy of Super Bowl MVP status. While many will be talking about how this latest title ensures Tom Brady as being the greatest player of all-time, don't sleep on what we just saw from Gronk, who stamped his claim to being the greatest tight end the league has ever seen.